There are few better places to escape than the gorgeous Isles of Scilly which float just off the Cornish coast. Yes, this archipelago may be a hop, skip and a jump from the UK mainland, but it is a world apart.
With only five inhabited islands, the remaining 140 or so more are home to wildlife and seabirds. Some are popular day tripper haunts, while others rarely see a human footprint.
St Mary’s is the largest island and usually the first port of call for tourists. Hugh Town is its central hub and has a cluster of shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs as well as a museum and three nearby beaches - Porthcressa, Town Beach and Porthmellon. Old Town is the other “major” settlement on St Mary’s with a noteworthy beach and nature reserve.
Subtropical Tresco has a little bit of everything - from dramatic rocky outcrops, Bronze Age burial sites and romantic castle ruins, to secluded sandy beaches and world-famous Abbey Garden.
Beach lovers should castaway to St Martin’s. Just two miles long, it has some of the finest stretches of sands in the British Isles, if not the world.
St Agnes, Britain’s most south-westerly outpost, is totally untamed and thoroughly unspoilt. Strewn with paradise beaches and Bronze Age burial sites, it’s also joined to its closest neighbour, Gugh by a sand bar at low tide.
Bryher is the smallest of the inhabited islands and serves up a wonderful sense of freedom, whether you’re exploring rocky coves, lazing on white sandy beaches or hiking up one of its small granite hills for far-reaching views.
From shipwrecks to treasure and from burial chambers to deserted villages, the Isles of Scilly have ample history to embrace. Watersport enthusiasts can hire a kayak, SUP or boat and experience close-up Scilly’s amazing aquatic environment, while landlubbers can comb the seashore, stroll the coastal paths, hire a bike, or simply watch the seabirds swoop and the seals play in the surf.
Tantalise your tastebuds with local lobster, crab or tender islander beef, tuck into a handmade ice cream, sink a locally brewed ale and enjoy a sundowner of St Agnes gin or Scilly wine.
Above all, do as much or as little as you like in a breathtaking setting.